Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Smurl Family Haunting

The Smurl Haunting was an alleged demonic possession in the United States, on which the film The Haunted was based.

The claimed incidents began in 1974 and lasted until 1989 in the home of Jack and Janet Smurl in West Pittston, Pennsylvania. Whether the haunting was genuine or an elaborate hoax is debated.

The Smurl house was split. Jack and Janet lived in one half of the abode while Jack's parents, John and Mary, lived in the other half of the double-block house on Chase Street.

According to the Smurls, the first signs of paranormal activity began in 1974. They reported that a television set burst into flames, and a stain appeared on a carpet overnight. Water pipes began to leak even though they were repeatedly resoldered by a plumber, and scratches resembling those from a large cat appeared on paintwork and bathroom fittings.

By 1977, the reported events were escalating. Toilets flushed without human intervention, footsteps were heard on the stairs, chest drawers opened and closed unaided, radios worked when they were not plugged in, rocking chairs rocked while empty, and a sour smell filled the house.

In 1985, John and Mary claimed to hear loud, obscene language, and Jack and Janet's house often became extremely cold.

Two days after this, an icy cold swept the house and a strange black human shape allegedly materialised in the kitchen in front of Janet. It was about five feet nine inches tall, and with no facial features. It later appeared to Mary Smurl in her kitchen.

The violence and frequency of the events continued to escalate.

In 1986, the family brought in a controversial pair of demonologists, Ed and Lorraine Warren, who announced the house was haunted by three minor spirits and a powerful, evil demon. They tried to persuade the demon to leave by playing holy music and praying. The alleged demon reacted by shaking mirrors, dressers and drawers.

Jack alleges he was raped one night by a scale-covered succubus with a young girl's body and an old woman's head. Janet also claimed she was sexually assaulted by a shadowy humanoid figure (described as an incubus), and that pig noises were heard from the wall cavities. The attack on Janet and the shadowy apparition are similar to the description of the attacks on Carla Moran that were portrayed in the movie, "The Entity".

The Smurls brought in Father Robert McKenna. He conducted two exorcisms in Latin and more than fifty Catholic Masses, which allegedly infuriated the demon further. The demon was said to follow them on a vacation to the Poconos and harass Jack at work.

It was at this point the Smurls appeared on television on a Philadelphia talk show called The People are Talking hosted by Richard Bey. The demon allegedly reacted by raping Jack again, and appearing to him as a half-man, half-pig. Janet was throttled and thrown about by invisible forces.

One obvious question that skeptics always ask is why the couple did not move out of their house if the attacks were so violent and distressing. The Smurl's response being that the demon could apparently follow them anywhere; having shown this to them when they abandoned the house for a week only to be intensly harassed at the campground where they were staying.

According to the TV Movie, The Haunted, the Smurl family moved some years later, only to have the spirit follow them. They were haunted until, in 1989, a church-sanctioned exorcism finally ended their horror.

In the early 2000's, tenant Richard Lloyd was found deceased after an apparent drug overdose.

Phelps Mansion Poltergiest

In 1848 the Rev. Eliakim Phelps moved to Stratford,CT. He was a former widower with grown children who had recently remarried a younger woman with three kids of her own, Rev. Phelps was looking for a home big enough to accommodate his growing brood. He found and purchased the house at 1738 Elm Street from George R. Dowell, a former sea captain who had built the large residence. The family moved in and all was well … for a while.

On the morning of Sunday, March 10, 1850, the Phelps family returned from church services to find their house in a curious state. All the doors were open and the rooms were in complete disarray as if ransacked by thieves, except nothing valuable had been stolen. However, in a bedroom, one of Mrs. Phelps’ nightgowns was laid out on a bed, sleeves over chest (like a body in a coffin would be posed), with stockings at the bottom. The house was straightened; Rev. Phelps then sent the family back to church for afternoon services while he hid and waited in case the perpetrators returned. What happened instead is that while he was upstairs, the action was going on downstairs — when he went down to investigate, he found the dining room was filled with 11 lifelike effigies posed in various forms of devotion, intricately created from their clothes.

According to accounts from the time, that was the beginning of a period of very unusual happenings, manifestations that paranormal investigators now would classify as “poltergeist activity.” Over the next six months, many odd things occurred, including (but not limited to): other effigies appearing, one Phelps son being carried across a room by invisible hands, other family members being pinched and slapped by unseen forces, objects randomly moving through the air, silverware was bent and twisted, furniture overturning on its own , windows breaking; food materializing from nowhere and pelting the family; and perhaps most notoriously, all manner of mysterious noises sounding at all hours — loud rappings, knockings and poundings as well as unexplained cries and shouts.

As you might expect, these activities brought a lot of attention to the Phelps house, as well as a slew of professional investigators and skeptical newspaper journalists eager to document the wild events. Despite the intense focus on the family and the house, no earthly perpetrator was ever determined.

Many theories as to the cause of the Phelps Mansion hauntings have been suggested: Some suggest Rev. Phelps had a strong interest in mysticism, and may have had a seance a few days before the activities occurred that inadvertently opened a portal to another dimension; others believe that the Phelps family was being tormented by the restless spirit of Goody Bassett, a woman who in 1651 had been hung as a witch near the property; and still there are those who think that the two of the Phelps children — Anna, 16, and Henry, 11 — were conduits for supernatural activity, as it seems many poltergeist cases surround prepubescent children and young teenagers.

Whatever the reason, after the beleaguered Phelps family moved to Philadelphia for the winter of 1850-51 (where they were undisturbed) and returned to Stratford the following spring, they were no longer bothered by any paranormal activities. They lived in the mansion for another eight years without incident, then sold it to Moses Y. Beach in 1859, whose family owned the house for decades without any problems. It passed through different owners before ending up in the possession of Maude Thompson in the early 1940s, who converted it into a nursing home.

Whatever forces that had haunted the big mansion on Elm Street seemed to return in the early 1970s. Staff and residents of the nursing home reported hearing strange noises and having odd experiences, while emergency alarms would go off without provocation. Ed and Lorraine Warren were called in to investigate, but like the ghost hunters from over a century before, were unable to find anything definitive.

A short time later, the house was partially destroyed by a fire. The remaining structure was then eventually demolished altogether, although mere flames were hardly enough to consume the legend of Phelps Mansion.

Haunted Cemeterys

St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 - New Orleans
Multiple ghosts are said to haunt this famous New Orleans cemetery, but one ghost dominates the others - Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans. The ornate cemetery is the oldest cemetery in New Orleans - a place of ornate above-ground tombs and mausoleums, winding footpaths and crumbling memorials.

Old Western Burial Ground - Baltimore
The Old Western Burial Ground in Baltimore is the final resting place of Edgar Allan Poe, fifteen generals from the Revolutionary War and War of 1812, and other famous individuals. Part of the graveyard can now only be accessed by way of catacombs below Westminster Presbyterian Church where ghosts are said to walk...

Resurrection Cemetery - Chicago
One of America's favorite ghost stories is the tale of the vanishing hitchhiker, Resurrection Mary. Resurrection Cemetery, located in Justice, Illinois, has been home to this famous spirit since the 1930's. The famous burned and twisted bars at the gate of Resurrection Cemetery were removed to discourage onlookers

Stull Cemetery - Stull, Kansas
This quiet cemetery located between Topeka and Kansas City, in the town of Stull, Kansas, is listed by many haunting guides as one of the Seven Portals to Hell and one of the most haunted cemeteries in America. Steven Jansen, director of the Watkins Community Museum of History thinks the legends started as a "fraternity prank" in the 1970s, however, and have no basis in truth. The locals do their best to deter visitors on Halloween due to repeated vandalism in the cemetery, and it is even said that a local knocked down the burned-out church on the property - site of the supposed "gateway to hell."

Bachelor's Grove Cemetery - Chicago
This abandoned Chicago burial ground is the subject of numerous legends and ghostly tales. More "than 100 different reports of strange phenomena have been collected about the place... including actual apparitions, unexplained sights and sounds, and even glowing balls of light."

El Campo Santo Cemetery - San Diego
The now-restored 1849 Roman Catholic cemetery is a popular place for ghost sightings. Some of the graves here were covered over by a street, and others have been desecrated over the years, reportedly leaving the residents restless.

Greenwood Cemetery - Decatur, Illinois
One of the most famous haunted cemeteries in the midwest, Greenwood Cemetery in Decatur, Illinois, is the site of numerous ghost stories and legends. The Civil War section is the most famous, said to be haunted by the ghosts of Confederate prisoners.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery - Los Angeles, California
Formerly known as Hollywood Memorial Park, this Los Angeles, California, cemetery to the stars is reportedly haunted by starlet Virginia Rappe, who allegedly died after a night of debauchery with comedian Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle. Clifton Webb is also reported to haunt his mausoleum here, and a "Lady in Black" is often seen in front of Rudolph Valentino's crypt.

Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery - Ohio
Fresh flowers often mysteriously appear on the grave of a Confederate soldier who is buried here, believed to have been left behind by the famous "Lady in Gray," The ghostly widow, who has been seen walking among the tombstones, lost her husband at the confederate prison camp which existed on this spot during the Civil War.

Silver Cliff Cemetery - Colorado
Ghost sightings in this haunted cemetery date back to the 1880's. Ghosts of pioneers are believed to be the cause of the blue balls of light that float over the graves.

Stepp Cemetery - Chicago
A number of eerie legends and tales of paranormal activity have arisen from Stepp Cemetery, one of the most famous haunted cemeteries in the state of Indiana.

Union Cemetery - Easton, Connecticut

A favorite cemetery for ghost photographers, Union Cemetery is most famous for the "White Lady" who has been seen by many walking through the cemetery at night. Other ghosts, including Indian spirits, are also said to haunt the graveyard.